Below, we provide answers to some of the more common advising questions in the political science major. For additional advising help, please contact the department chair or one of our other faculty advisors.
Q: How do I declare a major in political science?
A: To declare a major in political science, we require the university minimum 2.0 GPA and do not require any additional criteria to be accepted into the major. New students and transfer students can switch to political science starting the first day of the semester. To switch majors, you need to complete a “Addition/Change of Major Form.” If you are changing majors with less than 90 total units, you need to complete this form [pdf]. If you have more than 90 units, please complete this form [pdf].
Q: Is there a minor in political science?
A: Why yes there is! In fact, we have three minors in the political science department: Political Science, Public Administration and Public Policy, and Applied Research Methods. Any one of our faculty advisors can discuss these with you and how they might fit into your academic program. To declare one of these minors, please see a Political Science Faculty Major Advisor.
Q: I am a political science major. Should I declare a minor?
A: You do not have to declare a minor but it can be a great way to bring more coherence to your classes outside of political science and help earn the 120 minimum units you need to graduate. There are a number of minors that have proven popular with political science majors. These include African American Studies, Anthropology, Applied Research Methods, Asian American Studies, Business, Chicana and Chicano Studies, Communication Studies, Economics, Environmental Studies, Global Studies, History, Human Rights, Justice Studies, Legal Studies, Psychology, Public Administration & Public Policy, Sociology, Urban Studies, Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. To declare one of these minors (or a minor not on this list), please see a faculty advisor in the department which houses that minor.
Q: Am I required to regularly see a major advisor in political science?
A: Technically speaking, the answer is no, although it is highly recommended. We encourage students to talk with a major faculty advisor at least once a semester to make sure you’re satisfying all the course requirements. It’s especially important you meet with the department chair (or other faculty advisor) just before you file for graduation. We will check and review your Major Planner and your “MyProgress” report to make sure you’re on track to graduate.
Q: How many units should I be taking during each semester?
A: Ideally, students should be taking an average of 15 units per semester. This will allow you to graduate in four years. It's common for students to take slightly more than 15 in one semestr, and slightly less in others, but averaging 15 is a good target. To understand how your unit load will affect your path to graduation, please visit with a major faculty advisor.
Q: How should I plan future courses to complete the political science major?
A: To help you choose your future political science courses, we encourage you to meet with a faculty advisor. We highlight two sources that can help you plan: the Major Planner form [pdf] and your “MyProgress” report (this can be found in MySJSU). The Major Planner presents political science major requirements in four major sections: A (Lower Division Required Courses), B (Upper Division Courses within Each Subfield), C (Upper Division Electives), and D (Additional Major Requirements). It’s helpful to familiarize yourself with these as you will need to complete the course requirements in each of these sections to complete the political science major.
To see which courses/requirements you’ve completed thus far, and which courses you still need to complete, open your MyProgress and scroll down to find “POLS Major Requirements.” A major requirement marked with a green box indicates you’ve successfully completed a course(s) that fulfills that requirement. A yellow diamond indicates you are currently enrolled in a course(s) that satisfies that given major requirement—if you successfully complete the course(s) at the end of the semester, the yellow diamond will turn into a green “completed” box. Any major requirements marked with a red box are those courses you still need to complete. These are the courses you should schedule in future semesters.
Q: When should I take POLS 100W and POLS 100M? To take 100W, students need at least 60 units and to have completed the WST Directed Self Placement. Students are highly encouraged to take 100W during their junior year. POLS 100M (Political Inquiry) is a course best taken during students’ sophomore or junior year. Writing and analytical skills learned in these courses help students succeed in other upper division courses. This is why it’s best to take these sooner rather than later. Students with a Fall 2020 catalog year or later will be required to take both POLS 100W and POLS 100M before they enroll in a political science senior capstone course (POLS 190 or POLS 181C).
Q: How do I file for graduation?
A: You can file for graduation online through MySJSU once you’ve reached a minimum of 90 units. But before you do, the department asks that you have the department chair (or other faculty major advisor) review your completed Major Planner and your MyProgress . Instructions on how to complete and submit your Major Planner and how to file for graduation can be found on Graduation Information page. This same page has important information on graduation filing deadlines and priority registration.
Q: Can I talk with an advisor about going to graduate school or law school or my future career plans?
A: Yes, faculty in the department are happy to talk with students about this during advising or office hours. SJSU’s Career Center also has some great information on career development including “Explore Majors/Careers: What Can I do with a Political Science Major. ” You might also consider pursuing an internship as you get closer to graduation. Internships can help build your skills and your professional network. Visit our internships page for more information. Finally, SJSU typically hosts a number of job fairs including one that focuses on public sector opportunities.
Q: Is a D- a passing grade in political science courses?
A: In most cases yes, a D- is a passing grade, but there are exceptions. POLS 100W requires a grade of “C” or better for passing. Students with a Fall 2020 catalog year or later need a “C-“ or better to pass the senior capstone requirement (POLS 190 or POLS 181C). Courses that are offered Credit/No Credit require a C- or better to earn academic credit. Please also be aware that while a D- is considered passing most courses, students must maintain a minimum 2.0 GPA in the major (and overall) to maintain good academic standing.
Q: I’m interested in studying abroad. Can I do that?
A: Generally speaking, yes you can, but currently, restrictions are in place due to Covid-19. But for more information about studying abroad, please contact Dr. Danijela Dudley (email@example.com) or visit our Study Abroad page on our website. Students apply through the Study Abroad and Away office and need to have an academic plan approved before they leave. The Political Science Department also offers the Gilbert Scholarship for qualifying students studying abroad.
Q: Where can I go for general education advising?
A: Political science majors can make use of the College of Social Sciences’s Academic Counseling Center for Excellence in the Social Sciences (ACCESS) for GE advising. The ACCESS Center (located in Clark Hall 240) has advisors that can assist you with general education questions, tutoring, probation advising, reinstatement and former student returning advising, and other academic planning needs. Be sure to check it out!
Q: Are there additional support services on campus?
A: Yes! Check out these sources for help: SJSU’s Writing Center, Peer Connections, African American/Black Student Sucess Center, Chicanx/Latinx Student Sucess Center ,and SJSU Counseling and Psychological Services.